The Internet Must Die
by Warren Pease
www.opednews.com, January 15,
"I hear there's rumors on the Internets
that we're going to have a draft." - George W. Bush, contemplating
his next cold Lone Star, October 8, 2004, St. Louis, Mo.
You know that you've reached desperate
times when you find yourself fondly remembering Tass and Pravda
as beacons of journalistic integrity.
But when considering US corporate media's
seven-year love affair with the Bush administration and its willingness
to deliver blatant propaganda and outright lies to manufacture
Bush-approved political orthodoxy, those former USSR institutions
compare favorably with the shameless house organs now masquerading
as an American free press.
The Internet's corporate competition:
co-opted beyond redemption
Thanks to a 30-year frenzy of mergers
and acquisitions, wink-and-nod FCC "oversight" and congressional
unwillingness to invoke existing anti-trust laws, the American
marketplace of ideas is now ruled by six massive conglomerates
that control the content of more than 80 percent of what most
of us see, hear and read.
So what? Well, for one thing, a significant
majority of news, entertainment and information US audiences see
is vetted for its support of status quo corporate values and purged
of "dangerous" unconventional narratives -- perhaps
regarding the threat to independent thought posed by media consolidation.
And when discussing media consolidation,
someone might tumble to the fact that NBC is owned by General
Electric, one of the world's largest armaments manufacturers in
2006 and among the six largest media conglomerates. GE makes and
maintains engines for the F-16 Fighter jet, Abrams tank, Apache
helicopter, U2 bomber, Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle (UCAV), A-10
aircraft and numerous other military equipment, including planes,
helicopters, tanks and more.
Is it reasonable to expect NBC to report
critically on the status and duration of the Iraq occupation?
Or is it predictable that NBC's occupation coverage will tell
us that the "surge" is working, that US troop deaths
are down, that the Iraqi puppet regime is gaining traction and,
if we can hang on for another decade, things should turn out hunky-dory.
Well, it's certain that extending the
US presence in Iraq by a decade will have a very positive impact
on GE's profit and loss statements. It's probably going to be
somewhat less beneficial for the people who actually have to fight
this insane proxy war on behalf of GE's bottom line.
But that's okay, since war is the optimum
business condition for many industries -- banks, weapons makers,
raw materials suppliers, machine tool makers and so on -- GE looks
to sell many billions of dollars more of its killing machinery,
all the while telling Americans via NBC how peace is just 10 or
so years down the road.
And GE is just one of the main offenders.
We'll leave for another day a discussion on how thoroughly Rupert
Murdoch's News Corp. has polluted the national discourse. Or how
the acquisitive tentacles of Viacom, CBS, TimeWarner and Disney
have managed to take a relatively engaged population and, in 30
short years, turn it into a nation of compliant, ill-informed,
politically illiterate chowder heads content to consume their
quota of goods, services and ideologies with an equally uncritical
American mass media lost the thread of
the story decades ago and are now only qualified to dish pop culture
infotainment masquerading as news; report breathlessly on the
latest D-class celebrity screw-up; and act as stenographers and
cheerleaders for the latest batch of official Bush administration
Among other insults, this explains why John Stossel is a network
star while Bill Moyers is on PBS.
The parallel universe
The only serious competition threatening
corporate media's monopoly on official "truths" -- those
pieties designed to narrow acceptable choices and increase social
control -- comes from the Internet.
"The news," as it's laughingly known, can tap into a
seemingly endless supply of drunken or felonious fools like Jessica
and Paris and OJ and Twitany to sedate its viewers. Then there's
the occasional gruesome murder to balance the chirpy happy talk
on miraculous medical procedures (which most of us will never
live to experience because our for-profit insurers won't cover
them), an always erroneous look at local weather, followed by
15 uplifting minutes on sports and a recap of the top celebrity
screw-ups of the day. The viewer yawns, feels a bit over-awed
by all this technical wizardry and slick showmanship, and heads
for bed thinking he's up to date on the stuff that really matters.
Corporate media has a bottomless pool
of "on-air talent" -- perfectly coiffed, well-modulated,
tastefully made up, arrayed in $5K worth of suits, ties and little
flag lapel pins, strident and irritating as a hundred Ross Perots.
We have broadband, YouTube, blogs, forums,
actual reporters, search engines, discussion groups, political
organizing, access to newspapers published in actual free countries
-- all taking place in plain sight.
Over the past decade Internet and Web
technology have matured and surpassed nearly anything mass media
can offer. It's instant news, usually with audio or video, often
reported by eyewitnesses rather than filtered by some blow-dried
idiot. It's preserving what's left of our national heritage by
archiving "purged" documents. It's subjecting every
significant political, social and economic development to the
scrutiny and analysis of the world's collective brainpower. It's
the unifying element linking diverse cultures into an evolving
planetary society not subordinated to states or lines on a map.
And it's the universe's greatest source of jokes, one-liners and
Governments' worst nightmare: an informed
and activist citizenry
I don't see how the power elites can afford
to allow this nonsense to continue for much longer. People with
unconventional (read: humanitarian or peaceful) ideas are the
implacable enemy of those sustaining their wealth and power by
aligning themselves with the status quo, and these dissenting
Internet pipsqueaks cannot be tolerated forever.
To our corporate masters, libraries, independent
publishers and bookstores are bad enough. But fortunately for
"them," libraries are underfunded and ill-attended,
it's getting harder to publish dissenting material in the US and
many independent book stores are getting killed by the Barnes
& Nobles and Amazons of the world.
Not so the Internet. It's become the alternate
universe for hundreds of millions of people worldwide who know
and understand that the official story is always and inevitably
suspect. That altruism has never been a function of governments.
That governments are always at war with "the people"
they pretend to watch out for. That, as The Commander Guy pointed
out in a rare moment of clarity, dictatorships ARE easier to run
than representative democracies. That power exists solely to perpetuate
itself and, when threatened, will defend its position with anything
and everything in the arsenal.
Now that's a hell of an alternate narrative.
And the Internet is the "plumbing" that carries these
contrarian messages -- and the seditious thoughts and attitudes
and movements they inspire -- around the world in less time than
it takes Murdoch to count his latest billion.
Death by harassment
In July of last year, Bush signed an executive
order, entitled "Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who
Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq. This expanded the administration's
flexible definition of a terrorist to include anyone disagreeing
with its " . . . efforts to promote economic reconstruction
and political reform in Iraq or to provide humanitarian assistance
to the Iraqi people." This apparently isn't intended as a
joke, although I'm not sure what's going on over there qualifies
as "economic reconstruction" or "humanitarian assistance."
Which brings us to "Endgame,"
as the Department of Homeland Security calls HR 1955/S 1959, known
officially as The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism
Prevention Act of 2007, and which contains -- among dozens of
disgusting provisions -- these gems [italics mine]:
(2) The promotion of violent radicalization, homegrown terrorism
and ideologically based violence exists in the United States and
poses a threat to homeland security.
(3) The Internet has aided in facilitating
violent radicalization, ideologically based violence, and the
homegrown terrorism process in the United States by providing
access to broad and constant streams of terrorist-related propaganda
to United States citizens.
Striking at the heart of the international
terrorist conspiracy, this bill targets the dangerous arch-fiends/grandmothers/MySpace
teens who participate on the hundreds of thousands of political
forums, blogs or news and information sites that aren't exclusively
devoted to singing the praises of Bush/Cheney and their merry
band of imperialist oil pirates.
Note that this piece of repressive legislation
-- rumored to be the brainchild of the Rand Corporation and introduced
by Democrat Jane Harman -- passed the House last October by a
404-6 margin. Note that, introduced last August in the upper house
as S 1959 and co-sponsored by GOP armchair warrior and domestic
repression enthusiast Norm Coleman, it's coming up for a vote
in the Senate early this year. If it passes, which seems likely,
a Bush signature is a given -- probably with a signing statement
that says he'll ignore the act's few feeble provisions to combat
totalitarianism, like this one:
(a) In General - The Department of Homeland Security's efforts
to prevent ideologically based violence and homegrown terrorism
as described herein shall not violate the constitutional rights,
civil rights, or civil liberties of United States citizens or
lawful permanent residents.
Readers may want to take appropriate preemptive
action before, say, downloading this article becomes a felony.
Another motive for digital murder
There's an interesting new site called
"Wikileaks" that has garnered some recent attention
from corporate mass media, notably Time Magazine, which notes
that Wikileaks " . . . could become as important a journalistic
tool as the Freedom of Information Act." The site is intended
as a secure repository where whistleblowers can, at minimal personal
risk, post confidential, potentially embarrassing government and
corporate documents for the entire online world to see, study
Here's part of Wikileaks' mission statement:
We propose that authoritarian governments,
oppressive institutions and corrupt corporations should be subject
to the pressure, not merely of international diplomacy, freedom
of information laws or even periodic elections, but of something
far stronger - the consciences of the people within them.
We believe that transparency in government activities leads to
reduced corruption, better government and stronger democracies
. . . We believe this scrutiny requires information. Historically
that information has been costly - in terms of human life and
human rights. But with technological advances to the Internet
and cryptography, the risks of conveying important information
can be lowered.
Wikileaks opens leaked documents up to
stronger scrutiny than any media organization or intelligence
agency can provide. Wikileaks provides a forum for the entire
global community to relentlessly examine any document for its
credibility, plausibility, veracity and validity. Communities
can interpret leaked documents and explain their relevance to
the public. If a document comes from the Chinese government, the
entire Chinese dissident community and diaspora can freely scrutinize
and discuss it; if a document arrives from Iran, the entire Farsi
community can analyze it and put it in context.
In an important sense, Wikileaks is the
first intelligence agency of the people . . . its only interest
is the revelation of the truth. Unlike the covert activities of
state intelligence agencies, Wikileaks relies upon the power of
overt fact to enable and empower citizens to bring feared and
corrupt governments and corporations to justice.
Wikileaks is still months from going fully
operational, but they've already put up quite a few leaked confidential
documents from all over the world. Here's one entitled "Fallujah,
the information war and U.S. propaganda."
I suppose the whole thing could be a slick
disinfo psy-op designed to leak phony documents to "non-embedded"
reporters, then embarrass them publicly for printing anti-US propaganda
fabricated by some obscure left-radical loon or "terrorist."
But only a pure pessimist would think
the Bush administration capable of such chicanery. On the contrary,
they've amassed an impressive record of unstinting support for
the organizing principles of this country . . . life, liberty
and happiness for those with the right pedigree and who can kick
in a million bucks or so to the Republican National Committee
each election cycle.
You can contact the author at email@example.com
while the Internet is still up and running.
Also, if you value your opinions and the
right to express them openly over the Internet, please call your
senators and urge them to vote against S 1959. Then, if you really
enjoy smashing your head into the wall, notify the media of your
dissatisfaction with their complete blackout on HR 1955 and S